Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream
A delicious and fudgy hot chocolate cake, layered with marshmallowy swiss meringue buttercream, milky ganache, and crushed peppermint candies. This cake is perfectly reminiscent of your favorite childhood winter drink!
Keyword chocolate, hot chocolate, peppermint, swiss meringue buttercream
Prep Time 1hour
Cook Time 1hour
Decorating Time 2hours
Total Time 4hours
Hot Chocolate Cake
¾ +cupcocoa powder (extra needed for prep)
½ +cupsoftened butter (1 stick; extra needed for prep)
¾cupchopped bittersweet chocolate
1cuphot cocoa made with milk
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
8largefresh egg whites
Peppermint Ganache Filling
8ozmilk or bittersweet chocolate
1cupcrushed peppermint candies (like the round mints or candy canes)
MISC. Decorating Ingredients
8ozprecooked isomalt sugar cubes
Hot Chocolate Cake
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Thoroughly butter your cake pans. Then, use extra cocoa powder to coat the inside as well.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar for 4-5 minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Then, add the eggs, one by one, mixing for another two minutes. Next, add the vanilla and chopped chocolate and combine.
Combine the hot cocoa and coffee in a mixing container with a pour spout. Then, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the liquid ingredients to the beaten mixture, starting and ending with the dry. Mix with a spatula to prevent over mixing.
Pour the batter evenly into the three prepared pans, and bake for 40-50 minutes. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Some moist crumbs are okay, but make sure that the batter isn't raw on the toothpick.
Let the pans cool on a wire racking for 5-10 minutes. Then, use oven mitts to flip the cakes out onto the wire rack. Let cool to room temperature before frosting; if you're not stacking your cake right away, double wrap each cooled layer individually in the plastic wrap and freeze.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Wipe down all of your meringue mixing equipment with a lemon slice and then a paper towel to eliminate any remaining grease or fat, which inhibits meringue stabilization. Make sure your butter is naturally warming to room temperature.
Separate the eggs, placing the whites in a bain-marie and reserving the yolks for another dessert. Make sure not to contaminate the whites with a broken yolk.
Set the water under the bain-marie to a simmer, and add the sugar to the egg whites. Whisk constantly, by hand, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches a temperature of 160°F. Then, with a stand mixer (or handheld mixer, if necessary) mix on medium-high with the whisk attachment until glossy peaks form and the meringue has cooled to room temperature. This can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter one tablespoon at a time to the mixer. Let each tablespoon fully integrate before adding the next, but take care not to over-mix (otherwise, you can incorporate too much air.) Once you've added all the butter, flavor with the vanilla and salt, mixing just to combine again.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream keeps covered, at room temperature for two days. If you feel more comfortable, you can refrigerate it. Just allow the buttercream to come to room temperature, and give it a little whip to regain it's fluffy texture once again.
Peppermint Ganache Filling
Place the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.
In a microwave, or on the stove, heat the heavy cream until it just starts to bubble or scald. Pour the hot heavy cream over the chocolate pieces and let it sit for a minute - untouched.
After the minute has elapsed, slowly start to stir the ganache in little circles from the middle, until it's fully homogenized. Let cool slightly to thicken.
With a sharp chef's knife, chop the peppermint candies into small pieces. Don't pulverize them to dust, but make the pieces small enough that you won't crack a tooth biting down on one in the middle of the cake.
Frosting & Decorating Techniques
After the cakes are cooled, use your cake leveler to remove the caramelized, domed tops of each.
Stack the cake layers, piping a ring of buttercream around each edge, filling in the center with ganache and peppermint pieces, before adding the next layer.
Use the offset spatula to coat the cake with buttercream. Then, holding the bench scraper at a tight angle to the cake, smooth around the sides. Fill in any holes with the spatula, then smooth again. Chill the cake for 10-15 minutes, and then repeat this process once again.
ISOMALT ICE SKATING RINKCaution: Always use heat-resistant gloves when working with isomalt. This is IMPORTANT as isomalt is extremely hot and can cause second- and third-degree burns. In preparation for creating your isomalt skating rink, trace an approximate shape of your rink on the underside of parchment paper. Form a small tube of tin foil as a mold for the ice-fishing "hole" and place it where you want on the parchment paper. Heat your isomalt cubes in a microwave-safe silicone container in twenty-second intervals until melted. Use extreme caution - they're hot! Pour the isomalt sugar on your parchment paper, letting it spread to form your rink shape. Then, use a small amount of blue food coloring gel to dye the remaining melted isomalt sugar, and pour it into the foil tube. Let the sugar dry for 10-15 minutes, until it is cool and no longer tacky to the touch. Slowly peel away the parchment paper and tin foil. Don't put the isomalt in the refrigerator, otherwise, it can become cloudy and tacky.
ICE CREAM CONE PINE TREESWith a serrated knife, slowly and gently trim the ice cream cones to varying sizes. Then, use an open star tip to pipe buttercream around and up the tree. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to complete the snowy effect.
FONDANT PENGUINS & BENCHKnead the fondant to warm it up, then color accordingly. Roll and mold the pieces to create charming little penguin characters and snowflakes. Let the fondant air dry - don't put it in the refrigerator, otherwise, it begins to sweat and melt. You can use a small toothpick and a piece of sugar isomalt "string" to create a little fishing pole.
Isomalt is a sugar substitute derived from beets, often used by pastry chefs and culinary artists due to its glassy look when dried, and sculptability when hot. However, when consumed in large quantities (think, more than just a few pieces of "normal-sized" candies), it is known to cause some intestinal distress.When serving this cake, I preferred to lift up the isomalt "ice" altogether, removing it and the fondant decor from the top of the cake. Then, I placed it next to the cake so we could enjoy the cute scene while cutting into the cake. This way, though the decorations are fully edible, we only ate the truly tasty portions of the cake.
Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream https://lexisrose.com/penguin-skating-rink-peppermint-hot-chocolate-cake/